Ars Technica: Apple’s Swift Playgrounds slightly misses the mark for developers

“HyperCard succeeded precisely because it didn’t try to teach anyone to be a programmer, and instead it put the raw capability of the computer in the hands of people who didn’t have time to become programmers,” Adam Banks writes for Ars Technica. “HyperCard, ‘like a software erector set,’ would crystallise computing into building blocks that any user could snap together to implement the functionality and user interface they had in mind.”

“That’s not what Swift Playgrounds does today, however,” Banks writes. “Apple’s newest attempt to democratize coding presents a very inviting experience to the budding developer, but it insists that you code. And even after having done so, you still don’t get a deliverable app—only a work in progress.”

Banks asks, “Swift Playgrounds is definitively not HyperCard, but could it have been? Does it matter?”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: A preview release of Swift Playgrounds is available today to Apple Developer Program members as part of the iOS 10 developer preview and will be available with the iOS 10 public beta in July. The final version of Swift Playgrounds will be available in the App Store for free this fall. Swift Playgrounds is compatible with all iPad Air and iPad Pro models and iPad mini 2 and later running iOS 10. For more information including videos, images and demos, visit,

Apple’s new Swift Playgrounds for iPad a killer app for teaching code – June 22, 2016
Apple’s free Swift Playgrounds app for iPad makes learning to code easy and fun – June 13, 2016


  1. When I watched the WWDC announcement it sounded like Apple intended Swift Playground to be a place where people could learn the basics of Swift programming in a fun and entertaining sandbox. That’s what I heard.I don’t recall any claims that it was a program building system for the “anyman”, ala Hypercard. Am I wrong? Has Apple been pushing this as a reincarnation of Hypercard or is this guy just propping up straw men to knock down?

    1. You are correct. It’s learning tool not a development environment. This is just the typical lets-take-something-apple-and-fault-it-for-not-being-something-it-was-never-intended-to-be-to-get-page-hits.

  2. My 8 year old son really likes playing Playgrounds. For him it is not about making apps. He sees it as puzzle solving. It is really difficult for him to break problems into functions, loops and conditioneel but with a little niet of help I think he gets to understand what dad’s job is.

  3. I agree, they weren’t acting like you’re going to build apps with this, but as a learning tool. Hypercard was cool, but it’s been dead for a long time. If he wants Hypercard, he should shop on eBay.

  4. Swift is a programming language. If anything, from the demo at the keynote, I was worried that Playgrounds didn’t go deep enough into teaching the fundamentals of Swift.

    Comparing a full programming language to HyperCard is plain old cognitive dissonance. Why did Adam Banks expect Playgrounds to obfuscate the guts beneath the magical surface? It’s a silly expectation that has nothing to do with Playgrounds.

  5. I remember HyperCard (w/b WildCard, but the name was taken). It had an underlying programming language, HyperTalk. Neophytes could learn about programming with it but primarily it was tailored to rapid application development. Since the original Macintosh was advertised as a computer “for the rest of us,” HyperCard fit its intended audience — users, not programmers. Even so, Real Programmers used HyperCard too — unashamedly — as a convenient tool to make things for end users. In those days, Getting Things Done was paramount. Times have changed, become more political. There is more and more sneering. For example, coders look down on you if you defend BASIC or PHP and shame you in the forums.

  6. HyperCard was something that I discovered on a Mac that I was using at work and was so impressed with HyperCard that it was the number one reason why I then bought my first Mac.

    Clearly Swift Playgrounds is not similar to HyperCard and is certainly not intended to be, but there again it does remind many of us of HyperCard. It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to think that it could be developed into a 21st Century version of HyperCard. I think that there is a tremendous opportunity for something like that and Apple is uniquely positioned to provide it.

    For instance, just imagine the possibilities of using HomeKit hardware peripherals with an app that you create yourself in SwiftCard – or whatever such a programming environment might be named.

    1. Apple and Developers. Developers can write their own playgrounds. Swift Playgrounds was developed with kids in mind. But there’s nothing keeping a developer from using the API to develop playgrounds for adults.

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